Project Management Life Cycle & System Development Life Cycle
All IT projects begin with the Project Management Life Cycle which at a later stage converges with the System Development Life Cycle.
The Project Management Life Cycle (PMLC) begins in the Project Initiation (or Pre-Planning) phase and extends to the Planning tasks in the Planning & Design phases. These phases require a copious amount of preliminary work to be done before a project begins. The quality of effort and thoroughness applied in completing these tasks will determine a project's destiny. Project completion on time, within budget and meeting customer expectations can all be foretold by the quality of work done during these phases. It is therefore important that the role of these phases in the overall success of a project not be downplayed.
Let us be clear about something at this point: Application of the Agile methodology is no excuse to cut corners in executing these phases. The term "Agile" does not give technicians the license to streak through a project and let the project manager pick up the pieces after them. "Agile" should not be confused with "irresponsible puddle jumping". If the Agile approach is selected then the project team should be broken down into very small sub-teams, each responsible for a specific category of technical tasks.
In any case, the Project Manager must have a technical background, be it in Information Technology, Real Estate or any industry whose approach to the production of goods and services is organized around the project concept. In fact, every human endeavor can be rendered as a project.
The project manager should be conversant with and be able to work hands-on to produce the deliverables of the Initiation and Planning phases. He/She assumes the role of a Business Analyst and Project Lead for these phases. Considering the number of deliverables required and based on project size, the project manager may opt to engage additional resources to complete these activities. A project plan would be a perfect guide to ensure that every task required to produce a high-quality deliverable has been completed in structured fashion. Each FHTech project plan we prepare for our clients addresses a different project by size and type. However, it may not be necessary to produce all the deliverables listed in the project plan. It is not mandatory. The number and types depend on their usefulness to the project. It may be that an organization with an established methodology needs to embellish it based on the peculiarities of a project that requires one-off deliverables. This is particularly true of organizations at a CMM-3 level.
We recommend that the technical team be brought on board after obtaining sign-off on the deliverables from the project sponsor and other stakeholders. This would also bring closure to the Initiation and Planning phases.
Depending on the level of technical knowledge that a project manager may possess, the Design and Construction phases are generally run by the Technical Analyst and/or the System Architect. However, it’s the project manager’s responsibility to review and provide effective feedback on every deliverable produced in these phases. He/She should ensure that the system’s design is within the project scope and the effort to be expended stays within the budget for that phase. The project manager should also participate in design and code walkthroughs. His/her role is that of a watchdog to ensure that the Design reflects the Functional Specification. The Functional Specification will be the primary referential source during the Construction phase and it was derived from high-level Business Requirements, which the client or the User community wants fulfilled.
The project manager will again be heavily involved with the User community in the creation of a Test Strategy, Test Plans and scenarios. He/She could also be involved in setting up a Test Bed. This would require commissioning of a centralized location for the testing effort, reserving computer resources and garnering testing support. His/Her knowledge of the contents of the Functional Spec and the Design document will be crucial in creating the deliverables required for the various levels of testing.
FHTech maintains that the lead Trainer should be involved in the JAD sessions that produce the Functional Specification and also participate in creating the Test Plans. This level of involvement gives him/her an insider’s look at the system’s functionality and assists greatly in creating the Training Strategy and documentation.
The Implementation phase is the next area in which the project manager is going to be heavily involved, especially in the Roll Out
The Project Closeout phase will provide yet another opportunity to the project manger to enjoy a high profile, more so if the client insists upon parallel running of the old and new systems. It is solely the project manager’s responsibility to manage the Closeout activity and formally Hand Over the new system to the Project Sponsor.